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|“||Soldiers reported being watched from afar by an unnerving number of Parshendi scouts. Then we noticed a new pattern of their penetrating close to the camps in the night and then quickly retreating. I can only surmise that our enemies were even then preparing their stratagem to end this war.||”|
–From the personal journal of Navani Kholin, Jeseses 1174
Progression of the Chapter:
A snatch of Jasnah's first book is revealed; a Pattern is captured on paper, and a Cryptic enters the Physical Realm; Jasnah’s spren is glimpsed in a less terrifying form; Jasnah begins to explain the relationship between spren, Surgebinding, and the Orders of Knights Radiant, yet her atheism clouds her understanding of the truth; Shallan is given a new focus of scholarship, as the first person in centuries to interact with a Cryptic.
|“||I suspect, personally, that these groupings of spren - emotion spren versus nature spren - are where the ideas of mankind’s primeval ‘gods’ came from. Honor, who became Vorinism’s Almighty, was created by men who wanted a representation of ideal human emotions as they saw in emotion spren. Cultivation, the god worshipped in the West, is a female deity that is an embodiment of nature and nature spren. The various Voidspren, with their unseen lord - whose name changes depending on which culture we’re speaking of - evoke an enemy or antagonist. The Stormfather, of course, is a strange offshoot of this, his theoretical nature changing depending on which era of Vorinism is doing the talking ... .||”|
–Jasnah to Shallan
Amongst the Cosmere-savvy readership, we're able to (for however arrogantly/errorgantly) laugh over Jasnah’s lack of understanding. If she knew what we know, or even what Hoid knows, she’d understand that Honor and Cultivation are real entities, and were once real people who held Shards of Adonalsium. To be fair, she later acknowledges the “slight possibility” that the Stormfather and the Almighty might be powerful spren like the Nightwatcher. As a self-proclaimed atheist, however, Jasnah considers anything that can’t be explained by science to be superstition or fabrication. She holds an underlying presumption that she understands the natural world, and that anything “supernatural” - anything that isn’t part of her definition of the natural world - is therefore not real. The problem is that her definitions of science, reality and nature are too small.
In this chapter, we see something that may have influenced Jasnah’s atheistic tendencies: the historical tampering done by the Vorin church in its attempt to control “truth” for the sake of their own power. Jasnah was reluctant to give Shallan her own book, perhaps because it may give us a hint at how the Recreance became a “betrayal of mankind” rather than mankind’s betrayal of the spren.
Taking the lesser spren first, we again meet the creationspren, only this time we meet them by the hundreds. Is this because Shallan is drawing so frantically, or so well, or ... is it because of the subject of her drawing? If the theory is correct that a Windrunner's Plate comes somehow from the windspren to whom honorspren seem related, would a Lightweaver's Plate come from creationspren?
We also catch another glimpse of Ivory, which is the most ironic name for a spren who looks like a “small figure made of inky blackness—shaped like a man in a smart, fashionable suit with a long coat” who then melts away into shadow. Likely, the naming was done with purpose, though just what that purpose be, at this time, remains elusive. Jasnah drops tantalizing hints and then stops because, “He does not like me to speak of him. It makes him anxious.”
Using her peripheral vision to mark exactly where he is, Shallan locates Pattern and then, looking straight at him, captures a Memory of him. Is her Memory-taking ability something all her own, or is it something she gets from the bond with him?
She later realizes that he’s sort of clueless here and bumps into things as he begins to explore the Physical Realm again. The juxtaposition between Jasnah’s description of the Cryptics as “the lighteyes of the Cognitive Realm” and Pattern wandering around like a dizzy toddler exploring a new house is rare humor. Or disconcerting, rather, if you’re Shallan and have just been told to sideline all your other studies and concentrate on this odd little creature.
Did anyone else notice just how similar her drawing of Pattern is, with its symmetries spiraling out from the center point, to her mapping of the Shattered Plains?
Also, Nightwatcher is mentioned again as a powerful spren. Might she bond someone someday? Perhaps all Bondsmiths are linked to the Stormfather or some of them might link to Nightwatcher. Potentially, she could form a bond if she wanted to do so.
Quote of the Chapter
“I’m not one of the Radiants,” Shallan said.
“Of course you aren’t,” Jasnah said, “and neither am I. The orders of knights were a construct, just as all society is a construct, used by men to define and explain. Not every man who wields a spear is a soldier, and not every woman who makes bread is a baker. And yet weapons, or baking, become the hallmarks of certain professions.”
“So you’re saying that what we can do ... "
“Was once the definition of what initiated one into the Knights Radiant,” Jasnah said.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t give more than a slight hint at the origin of Surgebinding and how much was done prior to the founding of the Knights Radiant. It sounds again like it was pre-existent, but there’s no indication of whether any of the same limitations were present. Prior to the Radiants, was a Surgebinder able to access more than one Surge? Or more than two? Is the circle of overlapping tens an artificial construct, or a natural one? Or is there a difference, when you’re talking about living ideas?
Again with the Shadesmar icon, which is appropriate not only as Shallan’s icon but also as she draws Pattern from the Cognitive to the Physical Realm. Shalash is also appropriate as the Herald associated with Shallan’s Order-to-be, and as Shallan spends so much time in drawing.
- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson